If only the nation will pay attention, Florida has now become the perfect laboratory model for single-party Republican corporatist rule. When Alex Sink conceded to Rick Scott this morning, Republicans in Florida cemented a clean sweep of all statewide offices on the ballot. In addition, Republicans now hold over two thirds of the seats in both the Florida House and Florida Senate. Leading this merry band of corporatists will be Governor Rick Scott, who holds the distinction of having been CEO of the corporation that holds the record for the largest fine ever assessed ($1.7 billion) in settling Medicare fraud charges. With unemployment in the state now at 12 percent (pdf) and property values severely depressed from the burst property bubble, I see no way that a state without an income tax can withstand corporatist rule under these parameters without sliding into a New Depression.
This graph of unemployment in Florida shows that employers began trimming jobs as Charlie Crist took office in 2006. When the national economic crisis hit, Florida jobs then began to be cut faster than in the rest of the nation.
Depressed revenues to local governments in Florida because of property values that have plummeted already has caused problems even before Republicans won their larger majorities:
A drop in property tax revenue forced four Central Florida county governments to slash their budgets by a combined $114 million for 2010-2011, reduce services and eliminate hundreds of jobs. And at least one county resorted to a tax hike.
It was the region’s third consecutive year of declining property values, which fell about 12 percent in 2009, or $20.8 billion, pushing the area’s median home value down to $110,000 from $135,000, according to a new report generated by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association this month.
Republicans should own the coming melt-down in Florida entirely, having held the governor’s seat since JEB! was elected in 1998. They have presided over privatization of an incredible number of state functions and have removed almost all semblance of government oversight or regulation. There is, however, one thing of which we can be sure when it finally becomes clear that Florida will not be able to function without a massive federal bailout, possibly bringing the rest of the nation into the New Depression: it will all be Obama’s fault.